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Friday, November 12, 2010

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT-Viva Las Vegas (or Just Stay Home Next Time!)

Well, we went to Vegas. It was a much-needed break from reality for both of us, but it is SOOOO good to be home. Though exciting and different, downtown Las Vegas was stinky, loud, and a little depressing. Walking around the strip was a fun adventure, but after a few days, the glitz and glam wore off and we were ready to come back to good ole' Utah with its trees and fresh mountain air. But despite "Sin City's" filthiness, we came back with a few lessons about life (and a lot of souvenirs!)

Las Vegas itself is a little like the war between good and evil. The brochures all were so enticing, each promising excitement and entertainment, a respite from reality and a city that never sleeps. The lights and fancy casinos were beautiful and impressive at first. And nothing beats the food. We ate like kings! But after a day or two, we began seeing truth all around us. The brochures said nothing about the smell of cigarettes and alcohol that somehow slipped under the door of our "no-smoking: hotel room. Nor did they mention that about every 10 minutes we could expect to hear the siren of a racing ambulance or police car. We weren't told that the casinos that we would walk through were to be filled with lost, hollow souls numbly staring at flashing screens, which promised false hope of riches. It was fun to see Paris and the Bellagio, the Luxor, the MGM Grand, Excalibur, New York New York, and the Mandalay. The most unsettling experience for both of us was the walking salespeople. Each casino had highly persuasive men walking around looking for sweet, unsuspecting tourists like us. They promised us free tickets to be used at a "show" of our choice and vouchers for free meals. Though we said we were not interested, they persisted, promising us that we would have a good time. And they were everywhere! The funniest part was when we told one man that we were going to the dollar theater in town, so we didn't need tickets. He asked us what show we were going to see. You should have seen the look on his face as my awesome hubby responded, "Nanny McPhee Returns." He pretty much gave up on us at that point, probably guessing that we were Mormons.

Pedestrians in Las Vegas who walked even just a block away from the strip saw an entirely different downtown. There, they saw the sadness of drunken men, out of work and looking desperately for their next fix or drink. And I won't even start about the free pornographic pamphlets everywhere!

Anyway, the point is that Satan enlists the senses to help entice us to do evil. He tries to make sin seem appealing, exciting, flashy and desirable. Sadly, many fall for his lies, truly expecting a free show and a life free of consequences. But while our agency is free, we will never be able to choose our own consequences.

We visited the Las Vegas temple on our last day. What a contrast! As we stepped out of our car and walked around the grounds, we had a new appreciation for the sanctity of the Lord's House. The smells and noise of the city were forgotten. The landscaping was breathtaking and peaceful and we lingered for several hours.

As I have mentioned, I am currently serving in my stake's YW Presidency. I was THRILLED to hear that next year's theme will be the 13th article of faith. I felt that Las Vegas was the perfect visual. Though there are many unsavory sights and place in Las Vegas, anyone who lived there could find uplifting activities and be found in holy places. We were able to go see a very cute, clean movie, go to M&M World, and the chocolate factory, and to the Mormon Fort, as well as enjoy a picnic at a very nice city park. This could serve as an analogy as well. . . we were living in the world, but were trying hard not to be of the world.

Anyway, I know this post is very scattered, but the point to me is this. No matter where we find ourselves in life, or what Satan tempts us with, no matter how unsavory the world around us becomes, we always have the choice to live righteously. And as we do, we will be blessed with peace and security.


kimiko said...

I agree with your description of Vegas. We were there four years ago for a family reunion on my mom's side. For some reason, Hawaiians are obsessed with Vegas. Like you, we experienced two different worlds in the same city. We had a nice time with family members, some whom we hadn't seen in many years, yet were exposed to all the filth you described. The worst part of the weekend was when we were walking down the strip and someone handed porn to my cousin's seven-year-old boy. But it's comforting to know that there are many LDS people there and the Church is strong. It just goes to show that it doesn't matter where you live. You can still be righteous and stand in holy places.